Interoperability challenges for local digital twins and data spaces: Report and Guidance document

NIFO with white background
24 Oct 2023

The establishment of data spaces and local digital twins appears to be particularly promising. This stems from the fact that, in the last decade, the number of smart city initiatives has increased significantly in Europe, with the main objective of enabling local, regional, and national public administrations to leverage data and innovative technologies to improve decision-making and citizens’ well-being. While on one hand, developing these projects could bring many benefits; on the other hand, public administrations can also face various challenges.

Under the leadership of DG DIGIT and DG CNECT and with the support of the Living-in.EU network, Wavestone conducted a study under the National Interoperability Framework Observatory (NIFO) to identify and present the main organisational and cultural interoperability challenges arising when public administrations are establishing local and regional data spaces and local digital twins. To do so, an in-depth report on this topic was produced, complemented by a guidance document including practical steps and best practices for each type of stakeholder involved in smart city projects (citizens, public administrations, private sector, etc.).

In-depth report of organisational and cultural interoperability issues and practices in place within public administrations related to the four use cases 

In the context of this study, NIFO analysed the interoperability challenges faced by cities and communities when creating and implementing data spaces and local digital twins, through four use cases: 

  • The city of Amsterdam;
  • The city of Helsinki;
  • The city of Valencia;
  • The Flanders Region.

Following a literature review, the use cases analysis, and the collection of primary data, the report provides an overview of the EU legislative and policy framework supporting the emergence of data spaces and digital twin projects and the role of interoperability as a key enabler for the development of a data-driven society. The report then identifies a series of organisational and cultural interoperability challenges, including the insufficiency of common rules and processes, the need for a clearer governance framework, the lack of trust on data sharing and innovation culture, the deficit of awareness on the benefits of local digital twins and data spaces, and the scarcity of digital skills.

Guidance document on the roles, responsibilities, governance structures, processes and workflows relating to organisational and cultural interoperability

Based on the findings of the in-depth report above and additional stakeholders’ consultations, the guidance document presents practical steps and best practices for each type of stakeholder involved in smart city projects: citizens and civil society organisations, public administrations, political leaders, private companies, and academia. These recommendations are divided into each phase of project management (inception, planning, implementation, and monitoring) and include both operational and general recommendations. In addition, toolboxes highlight relevant resources for the readers.

About NIFO

The National Interoperability Framework Observatory (NIFO) is one of the mechanisms put in place by the European Commission as a monitoring tool, to regularly gather information on the state of play of digital public administration and interoperability activities within the EU Member States and associated countries.

The main mission of NIFO is to monitor the implementation of the revised version of the European Interoperability Framework (EIF) and to help foster the capacity building policy and modernisation of public administrations.

You can follow their latest news at Joinup platform (here)

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